Tuk-tuks, trains and automobiles: Presidential rivals on the campaign trail

Ahram Online, Monday 14 May 2012

Frontrunners in Egypt's hotly-contested presidential race are relying on novel campaigning methods, using diverse means of transportation to get their messages out

Ultras Abul-Fotouh presidential campaign bus (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Methods and tools used by Egypt's various presidential campaigns have ranged from electoral posters to human chains of supporters. What's new, however, is the use of different means of transportation – from the three-wheeled tuk-tuk to buses and minivans – to promote the 13 presidential hopefuls.  

Each of the candidates appears to have chosen a particular vehicle for their respective campaigns. Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, Mohamed Morsi, Hamdeen Sabbahi, and Mohamed Selim El-Awa all began by plastering their campaign buses with electoral posters while touring the countryside for conferences and rallies.

The Abul-Fotouh campaign, for example, used a double-decker bus to traverse the country, liberally covered with the candidate's image. In the Nile Delta Gharbiya Governorate, Abul-Fotouh campaigners toured the streets of Mahalla Al-Kubra waving flags and posters bearing his image, while distributing the candidate's presidential programme.

Morsi campaigners, meanwhile, created what they are calling the Nahda (Renaissance) train, consisting of several cars connected to one another, with each car devoted to a particular aspect of the Brotherhood's Renaissance Project.

Last Tuesday, in the Nile Delta Sharqiya Governorate, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party organised a campaign march with Egypt's smallest means of transportation – the tuk-tuk – to promote their candidate, Morsi. Marchers hit the streets chanting pro-Morsi slogans and hung his campaign posters from the small vehicles.

During recent celebrations on Sinai Liberation Day (25 April), a bus belonging to the Sabbahi campaign visited El-Arish in the Northern Sinai Peninsula, where the Nasserist candidate met with local Bedouin tribesmen and young supporters.

As for El-Awa, this candidate, too, recently traversed the country in a bus covered in campaign posters. He was soon joined by numerous journalists and well-wishers.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll will be held on 23/24 May, with a runoff vote on 16/17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority. Egypt's next president will be formally named on 21 June.

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